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How Sheryl Sandberg Is Ruining My Life (and other books I’ve read lately)

I’ve gotten a bit behind on my book reviews lately. What can I say, time flies when you’re doing nothing at all having fun!

Anyway, I read 5 books in May, and am still right on target with my goal of reading 52 books in 2013. Take that haters!

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Just kidding, no one cares.

Since I already reviewed Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls here, that just leaves Intellectual Dachshund and I with four more to recap- so let’s get to it, shall we?

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I like when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

The Interestings centres around a group of 6 friends who first meet as teenagers at a camp for the arts in the 1970’s, and follows them  throughout their decades-long friendship. Some become successful in their artistic pursuits; others not so much. Lives become complicated, relationships become strained, issues of class, money and power ensue, and in the end everyone is richer for the experience.

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This book reminded me a lot of one I read last year- The Collective by Don Lee (only it was about white kids instead of Asians). I liked both a lot, although this one was a bit of a saga. At times I became a bit bored by the characters and their constant melodrama and first-world problems.

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But it’s an interesting read for all you creative types out there, and a good one to tuck into over the summer.

I give it: 3.3/5 Intellectual Dachshunds.

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10th of December by George Saunders

In the literary world, George Saunders is kind of a big deal. He’s published several short story collections and novellas which have been critically acclaimed and New York Times bestsellers, is a regular contributor to fancy high brow publications like The New Yorker and McSweeney’s, and in his free time teaches English at Syracuse University. Tenth of December is his most recent compilation, and includes stories he has published in various magazines between 1995 and 2009.

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Now, I know this probably flies in the face of every major review out there, but this book just wasn’t my cup of tea. While I appreciated Saunders’ writing style, I found it a bit dark for my particular taste. Although often disguised with humorous prose, every story was anchored by some sort of heavy, morose theme like suburban angst, terminal illness or post-traumatic stress disorder. The whole thing left me feeling quite melancholy, which was annoying, because I usually try to avoid feeling feelings whenever possible. So for that, I give it: 2/5 Intellectual Dachshunds.

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Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

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In this self-described “feminist manifesto”, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg examines the role of women in the workplace, and explores why they are not progressing in leadership positions to the same extent as males. She offers explanations for this phenomenon, as well as potential solutions to help women realize their full potential.

Ugh. This book. I feel like there’s not much I can say without opening this up to a giant debate about feminism and women in business, but I’ll do my best.

This book is seriously like a pandemic going around the business world right now- almost everyone I know is reading/has read it, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Well, after having read it, I still have no idea. While I appreciate what Sandberg was trying to do here and think it’s a noble cause, I was not a fan of this book. I found her tone preachy, entitled, and self-absorbed. The entire book seemed like one big name-drop sprinkled with how awesome she is. E.g.. “When I was working for the secretary of treasury”, “When Mark (sic: Zuckerberg) was teaching my son how to fence”, “When I was first in my class at Harvard”.

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I also found the whole thing very unrelateable. Sandberg has lived a privileged life, and her net worth is in the hundreds of millions – it’s hard for the average woman to identify. I also think she puts too much of the emphasis on women, who are already juggling so much, to take on more, and not enough on broader, systemic changes.. but that is a whole barrel of monkeys I will not get into right now. I hoped to find this book inspiring, but instead I found it exhausting, and like I would never measure up. I give it 1/5 intellectual dachshunds.

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The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paulo Giordano

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Alice and Mattia are both “primes” — misfits who seem destined to be alone. They are haunted by the childhood tragedies and find themselves unable to reach out to anyone else. When the two meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit. As they grow into adulthood, their destinies seem irrevocably intertwined. But when the mathematically gifted Mattia accepts a research position that takes him thousands of miles away, the two are forced to separate with many things left unsaid. A chance encounter will reunite them and force a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface, but the question remains: Can two prime numbers ever find a way to be together?

I stole that little synopsis from the back of the book, because hey, I’m running out of steam here. The same coworker who lent me The Elegance of The Hedgehog lent this to me thinking I’d like it, and she was right. This book was emo, romantic, melodramatic and basically everything I love in a relationship novel.

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It would make for a great beach read, gift, or book club pick.

I give it: 4/5 Intellectual Dachshunds

“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

Question of the day: What book are you looking forward to reading on the beach this summer?

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16 thoughts on “How Sheryl Sandberg Is Ruining My Life (and other books I’ve read lately)

  1. Reading Hedgehog now, enjoyed Saunders but it wasn’t “la-la-la” enjoy, more like, “hmmmm” enjoy, and am looking forward to The Interestings. I’m waiting to find it in the library or for someone to mysteriously send it to me in the mail. Have you read The Uncoupling by Wolitzer? I think you’d like it. Kind of a parable and (bonus) short.

    • haha I like your enjoyment scale – “lalala” vs. “hmmm”. I might have to steal that. Haven’t read the Uncoupling but perhaps I’ll give it a go! Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I just released a book last month called “When Life Gives You Lemons… at Least You Won’t Get Scurvy!” Making the best of the crap life gives you. Any chance you’d like a free copy to review? If you think it sucks you don’t have to do a review. lol :)

  3. I am not reading any book on the beach this summer if it has any chance of ruining my life like a Sheryl Sandberg can do. I am going to be a beta tester for google’s new eye lid tablet though. Does that count? (with all apologies to Morgan Freeman)

  4. You have quite a variety of books. You do fiction and non fiction? Sometimes it’s probably hard to tell the difference. I got attacked by an aggressive feminist on twitter on Father’s Day. I guess I won’t tell her next time that Father’s Day is on the same day as Bloomsday next time.

    • A twitter attack? Did the hashtags hurt?
      Yes I try to mix it up and do both to compensate for the fact that I’m now spending 3/4 of my time in my house alone reading. At least I’m learning something?

  5. I’m trying to read 30 books this year so 52 is mighty impressive! My brother however, reads 200+ every year!. . . crazy.
    Next on my reading list is either White Teeth by Zadie Smith, The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas or The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (for the 3rd time!)

  6. I really enjoyed reading your book reviews! To answer your question, I’m looking forward to reading East of Eden, but it wont be on the beach. I cant swim and beaches are not fun ;).

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